Every year, the American Library Association (ALA) recognizes young librarians as Emerging Leaders. Of just 50 librarians selected nationwide, two of this year’s leaders are School of Communication and Information (SC&I) alumni. Fobazi Ettarh MLIS ’14 and Melody Townley MLIS ’13 were selected for this honor.
Townley said, “Being chosen as an Emerging Leader was one of my dream professional goals and this was the fourth time I had applied for the program.” Townley says that applicants are rarely chosen on their first try.
According to the ALA website, Emerging Leaders are the best and brightest in the industry. The honor is open to any librarian with fewer than five years of experience working at the professional level. As part of the Emerging Leaders program, Townley and Ettarh gain access to leadership, project-planning and network opportunities.
Additionally, they participated in group projects at the ALA Midwinter Meeting. Ettarh’s group worked on the “Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Roundtable Archive.” This project worked to preserve libraries as places of intellectual freedom for all. Townley’s group worked on the “Transforming School Librarians into Advocates with AASL’s ESSA Workshop.”
Townley explains, “The American Association of School Librarians (AASL) had created a workshop about the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). That is the latest legislation in school libraries… It highly recommends school librarians and uses language that directly references libraries and school librarians - but it stops just short of specifically requiring school librarians. So, AASL held a workshop, one in each state, to help school librarians understand what ESSA was, what the language said, and how they could advocate for themselves and their programs to receive funding at the district and state levels.”
Both Townley and Ettarh were sponsored for this award by groups their projects worked with. Townely was sponsored by the AASL. Ettarh was sponsored by the ALA Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Round Table. Their sponsorship meant financial support in attending ALA meetings and conferences.
Although Townley and Ettarh were not in the same concentration, they crossed paths at SC&I in the Library and Information Science Student Association (LISSA). Townley served as LISSA co-president for a term, and Ettarh served as LISSA secretary.
Townley said, “When I graduated the MLIS program, I was offered a job the day after graduation. And that job definitely gave me a pool of experiences to draw from to use both in my Emerging Leaders application and in my work as an Emerging Leader. So, the MLIS program absolutely prepared me for success in my role as an Emerging Leader.”
To learn more about the MLIS program, please click here.